All through a scene in 1994’s Quiz Present, Ralph Fiennes’ character, Columbia University professor Charles Van Doren normally takes Rob Morrow’s character, Congressional law firm Dick Goodwin, to the Harvard Club in Midtown Manhattan for a bite of lunch. Remaining a well mannered visitor, Goodwin opts to get the lunch unique, a Reuben sandwich.
When a 3rd guest sits down an the desk and a discussion about the distinctive ensues, Goodwin shares that the Reuben “is the only fully invented sandwich” and that the dish was established two decades prior at a poker recreation in Nebraska by a guy named Reuben Kay. He then observes, “Unfortunately they have the sandwich in this article, but, uh, they really don’t seem to be to have any Reubens.”
So did Reuben Kay invent the basic deli sandwich? If you believe previous New York Times Journal writer Elizabeth Weil, not particularly.
As Weil in depth in a short piece for The Situations and a for a longer period one particular for Saveur, an staff of the Blackstone Lodge in Omaha named Bernard Schimmel built a sandwich for the duration of a Sunday night time poker activity in the 1920s that includes handmade corned beef and Swiss cheese on dark rye bread layered with drained sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. Following grilling it and adding a sliced kosher dill pickle, a rose radish and potato chips on the facet, Schimmel served the sandwich to the poker player who experienced asked for it, a regional grocer named Reuben Kulakofsky.
The sandwich was an instant hit, so Schimmel’s father, who owned the Blackstone, put it on the hotel’s coffee-store menu and eventually on the menus of other lodges he owned, applying the title of the 1st guy to at any time ingest 1. When Reuben’s Restaurant on 58th Street in New York (now closed) and customers of the Kulakofskys clan disputed Weil’s origin story, the Nebraska State Historical Culture unearthed a 1934 menu from the Blackstone’s major eating room offering a Reuben for 40 cents and one more a single from ’37 offering it for 50 cents with chicken. If you can not think the Nebraska State Historical Culture, then who can you consider?
Equally trustworthy: Steve Slobodski, the operator of PJ Bernstein on 3rd Avenue on the Higher East Facet, who has been serving up Reubens at any time given that he started off doing work at the household-owned deli.
Previously various from the vintage version of the sandwich in that it involves neither Thousand Island nor Russian dressing, PJ Bernstein’s Reuben differs from the regular presenting in that it is served open-confronted atop two slices of rye as opposed to staying tucked in between ’em.
“PJ Bernstein has been around for 55 years, and my loved ones has owned it for the very last close to 40 decades,” Slobodski tells InsideHook. “One of the to start with yrs I arrived in and worked as a busboy or a waiter, I served a Reuben to any person. I had hardly ever witnessed it prior to and imagined it appeared remarkable due to the fact of the smell, the dimension and the cheese. I had to try it, so which is the working day I purchased my initial Reuben. I definitely could not finish it. They’re large. It’s a lot more than a half-pound of meat.”
That meat is all made in-household and, as famous earlier mentioned, PJ Bernstein has not designed it a behavior of serving the corned beef on its Reuben with any type of dressing — even if requested.
“We don’t provide it with Russian dressing. We truly just about don’t allow for it,” Slobodski states. “If. people today request for it, we make consider we never have it. It just alterations the flavors. The mayonnaise and the ketchup overwhelm most of the flavors apart from probably the cheese. The flavors of the sauerkraut, the Swiss and the toasted bread develop their have exclusive flavor. You can put anything on it, but in actuality, you will need the sour from the sauerkraut and that sweetness of Swiss and the meat with the crunchy bread for a common Reuben. There’s no hiding of ingredients with sauce.”
Brined overnight, boiled for 4 hours and then sliced throughout the grain to get rid of some of the fat, the corned beef on the open up-confronted Reuben will come wholly covered in melted cheese.
“The cheese melts wholly in excess of the whole sandwich,” Slobodski suggests. “With some Reubens, they grill the complete sandwich. If you do that, the temperature of the cheese and the meat is not the very same and you never get definitely get the melding of flavors. When we do it, it all will come out the exact and the melted cheese and the corned beef are rather hot. It gives it a tiny a lot more taste. There is almost nothing like melted cheese on just about anything. We like to try to eat it with a knife and fork.”
Somebody else who preferred to eat open up-faced Reuben from PJ Bernstein? Howard Cosell.
“He would only eat Hebrew Nationwide scorching canines and Reuben sandwiches. That’s it,” Slobodski states. “He would want a thing very hot and get just one of these. He gave us autographs and the complete factor. He was a character. Mel Brooks nevertheless arrives in, but he doesn’t get the Reuben.”
Maybe that’s simply because he’s creating it at property with this recipe …
PJ Bernstein’s Open up-Faced Reuben Sandwich
- 1/2 pound of Corned Beef
- 1/4 pound of Sauerkraut
- 4 Slices of Swiss Cheese
- 1 Tablespoon of Butter
- 2 Slices of Jewish Rye Bread
- Choose two items of Jewish Rye Bread and butter both equally sides.
- Place both of those items of bread on the grill for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- When grilled, position a 50 %-pound of corn beef on your bread, then put the sauerkraut on top rated of the corned beef.
- Last of all, position 4 to 5 slices of Swiss cheese on major of all the things.
- Following about two more minutes on the grill, put it in the broiler till it will get to a good crispy golden brown.
This write-up was showcased in the InsideHook NY publication. Indication up now for far more from all 5 boroughs.